Business, Women and Sustainable Development in China


April 2007 Volume V, number 3

“Business, Women and
Sustainable Development in China”

Net Contents

I. Network Presentation
Key Findings Perspectives

II. What’s New

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network
Contact Information
Sponsorship Opportunities

I. Network Presentation

A big thank you to those who took the time to attend WNSF’s luncheon panel on April 26, 2007 entitled “Business, Women and Sustainable Development in China”hosted by Burson Marsteller at the New York City office. The session featured Professor Shi Qingqi, Executive Vice-chairman and Secretary General of the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs, who shared insight into the status of women entrepreneurs in China.

Key Findings

  • The number of women entrepreneurs is increasing as more opportunities open along with a freer economy.
  • Sustainable development and energy reduction are issues that need to be addressed by government and business in China, as in the US.


  • Introduction: Ann Goodman, Ph.D., Executive Director, WNSF.
  • Welcome: Kathy Robb, Esq., Chair, WNSF Board of Directors and Partner and Head of Environmental Practice, Hunton & Williams
  • Speaker: Professor Shi Qingqi, Executive Vice-chairman and Secretary-general of China Association of Women Entrepreneurs
  • Translators: Lina Sun, Vivien Xiong

The Current Status of Women Entrepreneurs in China
Presented by Shi Qingqi

Professor Shi began her presentation by calling attention to the need for Chinese women entrepreneurs and American women entrepreneurs to work together in making the world a better place. The U.S. is number one in greenhouse gas emissions and China is number two, with the potential to flip flop soon. By sharing energy saving technologies and experience in sustainability, women entrepreneurs can help stop environmental degradation.

In China women-led businesses are on the rise, and only 2% of women-led businesses operate at a loss. Women entrepreneurs are growing at a faster pace than male entrepreneurs because the new market economy is giving women more opportunity. Women have businesses in many different industries especially in the manufacturing (37.2%), wholesale, retail, trade and catering industries (28.2%) and social services (10.6%).

Women start businesses at a later age than men (largely due to child bearing) and are slightly more educated then their male counterparts. Advanced technology is essential for a start up so women are acquiring advanced degrees. All members of Prof. Shi’s CAWE delegation at the NYC meeting had at least undergraduate degrees.

The main problem facing women entrepreneurs is funding, which still comes primarily from family and friends, though government and agency support is increasing. Other challenges include lack of experience in international markets and social constraints such as family, society and corporate hierarchy.

CAWE sees an urgent need to reduce energy consumption and create a more sustainable world. In 2002 CAWE sent a delegation to UN’s Earth Summit in South Africa with the slogan of “Save the Earth & Take Action”

Women entrepreneurs are much more interested than their male counterparts in people in need and see the growing demand for improvements in water, energy, health and agriculture. Members of the CAWE delegation emphasized promoting cost-effective products that can be sold and purchased by women in rural areas.

The US and Europe have become major trade partners of Chinese women entrepreneurs since China joined the WTO. Manufacturing sites of women-led enterprises maintain higher levels of international standards such as ISO14000 and ISO90000 certification.

The Chinese government’s new goal is to save 20% of energy and reduce green house gases by 10%. In rural areas lacking clean energy, the government is exempting agricultural tax.

China’s GDP is 6% of the global GDP but raw material consumption is higher than in the US. China is the largest consumer of cement, and, with the same amount of raw material, makes fewer products than its counterparts in the US and other countries.

The Chinese government has begun taking a lead on saving energy by regulating companies’ energy saving efforts. However, this effort is national and lacks reinforcement among local government bodies where corruption is rampant. The media also plays a big role in reminding people to save energy and water.

II. What’s New

  • WNSF’s Board member Joyce LaValle is the USGBC’s first-ever winner of the New York chapter’s LEEDER award.” Read about her contributions at:
  • Register for WNSF’s next roundtable, “Combating Poverty: Innovative Business Approaches,” hosted by IBM and New York Regional Association of Grantmakers on June 22, 2007 at 12:00 PM in New York City. Register at

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network

The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF) provides a forum for businesswomen to congregate, reflect, and act on the convergent issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Through meetings, training and simple electronic support tools, WNSF facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices, building a community of businesswomen who can serve as powerful change agents for corporate responsibility sustainability in the US and internationally. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future is a 501c3 organization. Gifts are tax deductible.

For more information, please contact: Ann Goodman, Ph.D., Executive Director Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future Please direct inquiries to: Board of Directors:

CHAIR: Kathy Robb, Esq., Partner and Head of Environmental Practice, Hunton & Williams; Dianne Dillon Ridgley, Director, Interface Inc. Board; Karen Flanders, Director of Sustainability, Coca-Cola Co.; Joanne Fox-Przeworski, Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College; Ann Goodman, Executive Director, WNSF; Sarah Howell, Director, Corporate Communications, BP; Michele Kahane, Special Projects Director, Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston College; Clair Krizov, Executive Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility, AT&T; Joyce La Valle, Senior Vice President, Interface Inc.; Anita Roper, Director of Sustainability, Alcoa Corp.; Deborah Sliter, Vice President of Programs, National Environmental Education & Training Foundation.

This issue of Net Notes was written by Carrie Clyne and edited by Ann Goodman. WNSF thanks founding sponsors AT&T and the Ford Foundation for their generous support.

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